PHILADELPHIA (June 6, 2019) – Today, Councilwoman Reynolds Brown (At-Large) introduced a bill that would require restaurants to make healthy beverages the default option for menu items designated for children. Currently, drinking just one 12-ounce can of soda every day for a year is equal to 55,000 calories, or 15 pounds a year. Offering healthier beverage options is a start towards encouraging children and parents to make smarter choices when they decide to dine out.
Councilwoman Reynolds Brown stated, “I remain committed to being an advocate for the health and well-being of the children of Philadelphia. Obesity among children is a serious problem that can be prevented and does have serious consequences in the long run on the health of children.”
According to this legislation, a food service establishment that offers a children’s meal must first offer a healthy beverage choice, including water, nonfat milk, or one hundred percent juice. This change to the menu will not prohibit the restaurant from selling, or a customer from purchasing, a beverage other than these healthy options.
Approximately 41 percent of youth aged 6-17 in the City of Philadelphia are overweight or obese, which is 8 percent more than the national average. Data reveals that, overweight children and adolescents are more likely to become overweight or obese adults.
Dr. Rene J. Alvarez, Jr., President, American Heart Association Southeastern Pennsylvania Board of Directors stated, “With busy working-class families eating out at restaurants more often, the American Heart Association is supportive of policies that would make the healthier choice the easier choice when purchasing children’s meals sold in the city. Healthier beverage options would help decrease the consumption of unhealthy sugary drinks that are a leading cause of diabetes and heart disease.”
Childhood obesity can have a harmful effect on the body. Children who are obese are more likely to have psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Consuming a healthy diet and being physically active helps children grow to maintain a healthy weight throughout childhood.
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